Just for the sake of a constitutional discussion, here is a topic ripe for the picking. Much was made that President Bush never formally declared war on radical Islam, al-Qaeda, the Taliban or any formal enemy. There was an authorization for a use of force in Afghanistan, and eventually Iraq, but not a formal Declaration of War.

At this time, President Obama is weighing air strikes against ISIS (or ISIL) in Iraq and potentially in Syria. Many have called for the need to have Congress debate such authorization but now some Representatives are saying they’re fine with the President going in without explicit Congressional approval.

Transcript of remarks from Representiave Peter King (R-NY) over the weekend:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman King we’re going to hear the president’s new strategy on Wednesday. He’s also seeming to suggest this morning that he has all the authority he needs now to take action even against Syria.

Do you agree with that? Or do you think he should come to Congress?

REP. PETER KING (R-NY): As a Republican, I do believe the president has the constitutional authority to take action now in Iraq and in Syria against ISIS. I believe as a matter of course, it’s probably better for him to get Congressional approval, but I — which I would certainly vote for. But I don’t believe he needs it. [Emphasis added] And if that’s going to delay what he wants to do, he should go ahead and just take action without waiting for Congress. This is too important to get this bogged down in a Congressional debate if the president does not believe the support is there.

If it is there, ideally he should get it. But I believe as commander-in-chief he is the absolute power to carry out these attacks.

It would be “better” if the President had approval but he doesn’t “need” it, according to King. That’s a pretty unclear answer when it comes to whether anyone is concerned with constitutional separation of powers and what power the President (any president) holds to commit US forces with or without congressional oversight and approval.

Even further, King says that the President should not even bother seeking Congressional approval if the President thinks Congress might not approve it. In that case, why bother having a Congress to represent anyone if Peter King wishes to override the rest of the House of Representatives and grant his personal authority to the President?

22 COMMENTS

  1. In this day of immediate communication, there is no reason why Congress cannot perform its responsibility of declaring war–via text, fb, tweet, email, etc–even tele-fricken-phone.

    This is just another example of Congress wanting to “bitch,” but if pressed, abdicating its responsibility. If there’s no Congressional declaration, there should be no war.

    • I can’t get over these words:

      “This is too important to get this bogged down in a Congressional debate if the president does not believe the support is there.”

      In other words, only talk to Congress if you know they already agree. From an elected congressman. That’s nuts.

      • Nate: You said above that King (ironic name, in this case) is being “unclear.” I think he was perfectly clear: He says Congress is an unnecessary confirmation of administrative war power.

        It’s clear that Obama would like to get “support” from Congress, but that’s not odd in our environment. I think McCain was just plain wrong to go abroad to criticize the administration in a foreign interview yesterday. American presidents used to have unanimous (mindless?) support in war efforts. McCain’s ridicule of Obama was timed to undermine Obama’s speech on foreign policy, at a time when Obama is trying to get allies abroad.

        That sort of “Jane Fonda” behavior is doubly ironic, coming from him.

        • Goethe:
          While the Senator and I don’t agree on very many things I would never doubt his patriotism. A man who served 5+ years in the Hanoi Hilton as a prisoner of war can in no way be haphazardly compared to the behavior exhibited by Hanoi Jane.

          I’ll let Nate answer your initial question.

          • I didn’t say he was “unpatriotic,” I said he was “wrong.” At a time when we are trying to build a real coalition (not a “Potemkin” coalition of the “willing”), criticism should be against our enemies, not against our own efforts.

            • By equating him to what Jane Fonda did is accusing him of traitorous behavior and thus being unpatriotic in many Americans eyes. Obviously you should have used another example if all you meant was he was wrong.

            • Goethe: If anyone is “undermining the nations foreign policy” it is the entirely upon the Presidents shoulders. It’s his administration which dithered it away for the past 6 years. Congress only has an “advise and consent” role and power to vote when the President ask for an act of war or a nomination for Secretary of State etc..

    • Goethe..as usual, your thinking is basis truth. The Constitution grants Congress the sole power to declare war. Congress has declared war on 11 occasions. Congress approved its last formal declaration of war during World War
      II (1942). Since that time it has agreed to resolutions authorizing the use of
      military force and continues to shape U.S. military policy through
      appropriations and oversight. That is why John Kerry had to coin the new phrase “counter-terrorism” because he cannot legally say we are at war.

      • The Constitution says, “The Congress shall have power. . .to declare war.”

        I suppose you could say that it does NOT say, “The Congress shall have SOLE power. . .to declare war.” Maybe anybody can legally commit the United States to war. . . .

          • We haven’t heard from Sam for a while either……everything o.k. there ? Hope he’s just hanging back or what ever he calls it.

            • Bob: The new system has kinks. I was not getting notice of even your comments until a couple days ago. Also, of course, you don’t get notice if you haven’t commented. So nobody else would get our comments, if you and I are the only ones commenting.

            • At the bottom of the comments section there is a link to click on to subscribe to a thread. Then you should get instant notifications when you comment.

              Goethe just discovered this days ago as we’ve been fighting notification issues for weeks.

  2. Rep. Kings remarks are disturbing on a number of fronts.

    The “if that is going to delay what he wants to do go ahead and just take action” remark is disturbing because I wonder if he or any other member of Congress remembers the “Tonkin Gulf Resolution” where Congress gave President Johnson carte blanche to do what ever he wanted after two of our ships were supposedly attacked by Vietnamese. LBJ used this to cover his butt during the presidential election of 1964 to show he was tough on communism and escalate the war. More recently a majority of Congress also thought there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the Gulf Wars and supported intervention. Both times these actions came back to bite them on the rump as being false. It is accepted knowledge any military response will drag on years so it is surprising that the Congress doesn’t want the President to set some kind of basic strategy or vision before getting their O.K. This is especially surprising since they are SUING THE PRESIDENT FOR TAKING EXECUTIVE ACTIONS AND UPSURPING CONGRESSIONAL AUTHORITY.

    The president meanwhile is a minimalist and has been known for taking nuanced steps and using proxies to either do the grunt work or fostering the onus off on them when things screw up. At times in foreign affairs he even seems to be in fierce denial when he shows surprise these countries are actually making these “19th century moves”. Knowing all the above aspects of the Presidents nature it also surprises me that the President wouldn’t look to Congress to C.Y.A. The key word for Progressives is “coalition” but it is hard to mount an international coalition when you lead from behind because then the coalition leads you. Speaking of leadership has anyone else noticed that although Russia has experienced similiar troubles with Islamic terrorist President Putin isn’t feeling the same threat as we are……..or looking for coalitions?

    Once again I feel it is fair to ask our elected officials to be careful of any and all alliance or military support we make with rebels without knowing what their stance is on America so that we aren’t going back in in five years to take them out.

  3. Hello Folks (most specifically Bob & Goethe) – I’ve been out of pocket since mid August when the drive on my Notebook crashed and I’ve been pursuing recovery – the keyboard on this backup misses keys and i don’t always catch the mistakes. I’ve also been doing tests in prep for m next Chemo round.

    Congress is so wound up and fk’d up with the the mid-terms, no one wants to say much for fear of saying something to piss off their constituency.

    B.O. is doing nothing more than usual, leading from from behind, this time to internal popularity and the mixed emotions of the total shock and awe or just bomb the crap out of ’em. – He still hasn’t touched Syria and the head and stomach of the snake.

    As a Sunni Muslim himself I believe B.O. is experiencing a lot of the same feelings that the Sunni’s are experiencing in the MiddleEast – got to get rid of the bad Islam State – but it is family. In addition all the various sects would indeed like a world wide Caliphate, just not as brutal as ISIS.

    I will try to monitor at least this thread

    • Sam: So good to hear from you! Last we heard, you had the medical issues, so we were afraid to think if you were in poor condition. Glad it was mostly mechanical gremlins. [By the way, I always thought American Motors was insane to name their car “Gremlin,” which was originally the demons who caused mechanical trouble in WWII planes! Worse than Chevy’s “cavalier,” which means “don’t give a shit.”]

      Anyway, Obama made the same mistake Bush did–standing against a secular leader in the Middle East. He should never have said “Assad must go,” unless we were going to do it next month. At this point, we should have joined with Syria and Iran to crush ISIS, but we can’t.

      If Saddam and Assad were still firmly in power over there, things would be a lot better for us over here.

Comments are closed.